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Bound with an Iron Chain: The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America Paperback – Jun 30 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 358 pages
  • Publisher: Pickpocket Publishing (June 30 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 098367440X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983674405
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #856,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Anthony Vaver is the author and publisher of, a website that explores crime, criminals, and punishments from America’s past. He has a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and an M.L.S. from Rutgers University. He is currently working on a new book about early American criminals. He has never spent a night in jail, but he was once falsely accused of shoplifting.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9ca54e4c) out of 5 stars 30 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cdeeb7c) out of 5 stars Excellent and entertaining historical crime read Aug. 30 2011
By Ball-Family - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book isn't just a wonderful read for history or genealogy buffs it's also a surprising treat for those who enjoy a good true crime story. I also highly recommend this for anyone who simply wants to read GOOD writing and learn about one of America and England's dark little secrets.

Anthony Vaver keeps this book moving at a quick, enjoyable and organized pace. There was never a moment that I felt annoyed with useless, dry, or boring content; I wanted to keep reading and find out what happened next. Each historical fact was effortlessly intertwined with the real life stories of death-pardoned convicts transported to England's dumping ground - the shores of America.

Finally, as a genealogist myself, I must give kudos to Mr. Vaver for doing such a find job with his Acknowledgements.

Thank you for a most excellent read Mr. Vaver.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c85f7b0) out of 5 stars Good read! Sept. 25 2011
By Jeanne Vaver - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was interesting to discover this segment of American history that I had never heard of before. The author did a good job of making the narrative come alive by interspersing the factual information with the personal histories of individuals who actually were convicted in England and were sentenced to transportation to the colonies. Because each chapter is complete in itself, I think that this book could be a good "hook" for the reluctant high school history student. Some of these true stories are better than any fiction!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c85f774) out of 5 stars The Best Book I have found on the Subject. Sept. 20 2012
By Key Largo - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I recently found out that my great great great great grandfather was sent to America in 1771 for a crime of stealing ribbon, in London. He arrived on a convict ship later that year.. This book was an eyeopener as to what some of our ancestors went through in the early Colonial America. Those arriving on prison ships and being sold as slaves as their punishment. It is a very readable book. Informative and well written. I would recommend to anyone that is interested in white slavery in early America.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cdc34c8) out of 5 stars This is a captivating book which relates fascinating history Dec 22 2013
By B. R. Morris - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Vaver captivatingly relates a relatively unknown facet of American history.

"Between 1700 and 1775, a total of 585,800 immigrants arrived in the 13 colonies from all over the world. About 52,200 of these immigrants were convicts and prisoners (9%). Slaves by far constituted the largest group (278,400; 47%), followed by people arriving with their freedom (151,600; 26%) and indentured servants (96,600; 18%). Note that almost three-quarters of all the people arriving in the American colonies during this time period did so without their freedom" (p. 7).

As Vaver explains "transportation," he enthralls the readers with tales of notorious criminals mixed with pathos for the more innocent caught in the flawed web of what passed for 18th Century British justice. Against a backdrop peopled with criminals like the notorious Jonathan Wild and Moll King, Vaver relates stories lesser known, such as the story of a twelve year old child, Elizabeth Howard, who, in 1728, stole a small quantity of ribbon and lace. Caught and imprisoned, Elizabeth stood trial and was convicted of felony theft: a hanging offense. While awaiting execution in Newgate prison, Elizabeth petitioned that her sentence be commuted to "transportation" to the American colonies. Her petitioned worked, and she was to be released on account of her young age. Unfortunately, Elizabeth died before she was released. (pp. 90-91 & 97-98).

When I bought this book, I expected to read about convicts being sent to Georgia. Vaver explains the origins of that misconception and then surprisingly reveals that most convicts sent to the colonies were landed and sold in Maryland and Virginia. It's a very good and informative book. And while it's in no manner Vaver's thesis, Vaver's book should serve as a cautionary tale to those who would rely on "privatization" (free enterprise} to mete out criminal punishment.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cdc33c0) out of 5 stars Must Have Book for any Historian March 30 2012
By stephanie clayton - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a must have for anyone interested in American history. This book has given me a more definite portrait of my convict ancestor and what his life must have been like. The book is exceptionally well written and researched. Well done Mr. Vaver and THANK YOU!